Mayor Ashton Hayward led an awesome assembling of political officials, business leaders, and community stakeholders in the dedication of the new Theophalis May Community Resource Center Legion Field. This event was very symbolic of the changing political and community relationships being led by a new guard of younger leaders determined to create a livable urban environment conducive for all ages and races.
Theophalis May built and served as Pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on Pensacola’s Westside near Morris Court Housing complex and the Baptist Hospital. He was known for his construction adaptive reuse skills as a local contractor. He participated in the historic restoration movement that facilitated the establishment of the Pensacola Historic District. According to his son, County Commissioner Lumon May, his father’s resume includes the L&N Terminal at the Downtown Crown Plaza Hotel, , the Rex Theater, the San Carlos Hotel, the Dorr House and the Julee Cottage (the home of a free Black woman) both in the Historic Pensacola Village, the Wentworth Museum, and the Imogene Theater in Milton Florida. In 2006, the year of his passing, Reverend May was awarded the Affordable Home Builder of the Year by the City of Pensacola.
The 15,000-square-foot Resource Center is standing on Legion Field’s historic ball fields on West Gregory Street. The Pensacola Sea Gulls played at this park during the years of segregation serving as a feeder affiliate team to the Negro Southern Baseball League. Pensacola’s own Charles (the Hawk) Marvray played on this field and a historic marker sits in front of the new resource center for all to see.
LuTimothy May, Pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and the City of Pensacola’s Community Outreach Director, provided a very professional emcee role symbolizing the strategic nexus of community, faith-based, and government leadership assembled by Mayor Hayward. The development of the center completed the commitment of the Mayor to move the Legion Field and the Woodland Heights Community Resource Centers up on the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) project list to make a more immediate impact.
The gymnasium where the event was held was packed wall to wall with people of all races and colors. Commissioner May spoke to the crowd that, “This is what this community is about; this is the dream my father had. Red, yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in his sight. Rich and poor, all coming together for the good of the community.”
The center houses the relocated Westside Branch Library, a meeting room, kitchen concession stand for athletic events, and of course the gymnasium for sports and major events. The center will sponsor programs for all ages with a focus on the area’s young community stakeholders.
Jim Reeves, a real estate attorney and developer, in an interview with the Pensacola Voice said that, “Rev. May knew about construction and he was the man to call. There was not a job he could not do!” Commissioner May said to the Voice with a proud exuberance, “We (the May Family) were humbled and thank the Mayor for honoring a great African-American who made a contribution to Pensacola, Escambia County, and Northwest Florida. I applaud the Mayor and Councilman Spencer for making the motion and the City Council for their approval for the Center to be name in honor of my father.”
The grand finale came when Mayor Hayward and Commissioner May presented a plaque to Mrs. Mary May in honor of the historic event honoring her husband. The couple raised seven children in Pensacola and the fruits of their labor, as parents, can still be seen today by the legacy that their offspring represent in the communities in which they serve. Mrs. May provided the closing statement embracing the mission of hope for the resource center when she stated, “If you believe, then you can receive. These children can be saved.”